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Thunder vs. Pistons Pick NBA – March 29th

We were looking good last night with a high-scoring 117 point first half, so I went to bed (I’m on the East Coast) thinking I’d wake up with a winner.  No such luck.  The Clippers and Celtics hit a major second half skid as the C’s notched just 40 second half points en route to a 114-90 defeat and leaving us a few buckets short of a winner.

The win, while not great for me, was a nice sign for the Clippers who will be getting Blake Griffin back at the end of the week, that they can play some defense and score and beat a quality opponent even without their star power forward.  They have been in a bit of a funk, but I expect some energy to be infused in this veteran team as they prepare to mount one mighty charge to take down the potentially (likely) record-setting Dubs in the Western Semis.

There are a few interesting games tonight.   The Warriors pursuit of history obviously makes their home tilt on TNT against Washington good television, but the most impactful game of the night is Indiana trying to deliver the Mortal Kombat fatality to the Chicago Bulls playoff chances tonight in Indianapolis.  The Bulls are in 9th place currently, two and a half games back of Detroit and three back of Indy for the final playoff spots.  Suffice it to say, despite the bounty of injuries, it will be an awkward offseason for first-time head coach Fred Hoiberg if this proud franchise is watching ping pong balls during the postseason…

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Today’s Free Pick:

Oklahoma City Thunder -3.5 at Detroit Pistons

This one looks like a mismatch on paper, but don’t underestimate home court advantage and the necessity of the game for each relative opponent.  Oklahoma City would be happy to win, Detroit would be crushed to lose.  The Thunder are comfortably locked into the third slot out West and are waiting for the next season to begin.  Detroit is just 2.5 games ahead of Chicago and slumping Washington for their playoff lives and only a half game behind Indy to get out of the dreaded 8th seed and avoid the Cavaliers in the opening round.

Detroit has also played pretty well against Oklahoma City over the last few years.  They are 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings, including a pair of very easy covers last season.  Oklahoma City is 9-1 SU in their last ten games, but is still just 7-13-1 ATS in their last 21 road games.  Meanwhile, Detroit has won five of six straight up at home, including wins over Charlotte and Portland.

Obviously OKC is the better squad, but this one just means WAY more to Detroit.  I like them to defend their home court and pull of a mild surprise upset tonight.  Reggie Jackson struggled in his first meeting with his former mates, shooting just 4 of 16 from the floor.  I like him to fare much better tonight at home and help lead Detroit to a much needed win.

Free Pick: Detroit Pistons +3.5